Third gun amnesty next month
The Minister of Police and Correction Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt. has called on the public to surrender “unlicensed and illegal firearms” for a national gun amnesty next month.
This will be the Ministry’s third gun amnesty.
The move follows a raid in Faleula in August during which Police confiscated seven pistols and nine rifles, including .22 and .38 calibre pistols, a shotgun, a .22 rifle and two large barreled rifles.
The Ministry of Police is seeking to combat what it views as an increasing number of firearms in the country.
Tialavea also singled out Police Officers for participation in the Ministry’s programme for turning in illegal weapons.
“This call is also directed to Police Officers who have illegal weapons to turn your gun into the Police,” the Minister said.
“Once the amnesty is over and you are caught with an illegal firearm, the Commissioner will arrest you.
“The raid in Faleula [makes it] evident there are weapons being passed around in the community and it is our job to keep our Country safe. This will be the third and hopefully it will be successful.
“Looking back at the first amnesty in 2015 more than 300 weapons were turned in and three years later the second amnesty was little over 100, there is a big gap.
“And that is why we know there are still a lot of illegal guns out there.”
Asked why the Minister singled out Police Officers for mention, Tialavea said a Police Officer had recently pleaded guilty to charges of unlawful possession of a handgun, and unlawful ammunition.
“Police Officers should lead by example; their mandate is to enforce the law and they cannot be seen doing the total opposite,” he said.
“The case has been discharged without conviction, but the fact of the matter is that it did happen.
“The [Police] Officers also need to be mindful, the current Commissioner of Police [Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil] does not care if you are a police officer, once you break the law you will be held accountable.”
Tialavea was referring to the case of Police Sergeant, Shrikrishna Schwenke, who was fined $1,200 by the District Court and discharged without conviction after pleading guilty to two charges against him in the court last October.
The Commissioner of Police and Corrections, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, during a press conference last month said they allowed people to turn in firearms, ammunition, explosives and other unlawful weapons to Police without questions being asked during past amnesties.
The Commissioner also raised concerns about the need to review the penalties imposed for guns and drugs charges.
“There are so many laws around guns, ammunition, narcotics that we need to take a look at from a broader perspective to fix [what is happening],” he said.
“We’re trying to do the best we can, with the guidelines and laws in place that guide the work we do. Keep in mind we enforce the law, we don’t make the law.”
He said the Ministry can only “advise” on the review of the laws as a result of their own experience.